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Berkeley Square Gardens * Westminster
   
Summary: * on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens

Berkeley Square Gardens were originally laid out in 1740s, the present layout dating from 1766/7. Lord Berkeley of Stratton, Royalist commander in the Civil War, acquired extensive lands north of Piccadilly soon after the Restoration and the family's London residence was situated near here until 1733. When, in 1696, the 3rd Lord Berkeley sold Berkeley House to the 1st Duke of Devonshire, he agreed to keep a strip of land clear of development to protect the view north from the house. This condition was honoured when the Berkeley estate was laid out for speculative building in the 1730s/40s, and resulted in the present square. The garden was first enclosed in the mid 1740s. Having become neglected, it was laid out anew in 1766/7 since when it has remained virtually unchanged. Improvements carried out in 1994 by WCC included restoration of the statue 'Woman of Samaria'. The surrounding London Plane trees are among the oldest in central London, planted in 1789.
Previous / Other name:
Site location: Berkeley Square, Mayfair
Postcode: W1J 5AX > Google Map
Type of site: Garden Square; Public Gardens
Date(s): 1740s, 1767
Designer(s): William Kent
Listed structures: LBI: Nos. 44, 45, 46; LBII*: No. 47; LBII: Woman of Samaria statue by Monro, shelter; Nos. 1, 2, 3, 24, 25, 27, 28, 34, 35, 41, 42, 43, 49, 50, 51, 52, 52A.
Borough: Westminster
Site ownership: Grosvenor Estate
Site management: WCC Parks Service (contractor: Continental Landscapes Ltd)
Open to public? Yes
Opening times: 8am - dusk
Special conditions:
Facilities:
Events:
Public transport: Tube: Bond Street (Central, Jubilee), Green Park (Victoria, Piccadilly, Jubilee). Bus: 8
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/06/2012
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.westminster.gov.uk

Fuller information:

Site on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens, for Register Entry see https://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list

Berkeley Square was first laid out in the mid C18th, the present design dating from the late 1760s. Lord Berkeley of Stratton, the Royalist commander in the Civil War, acquired extensive lands to the north of Piccadilly soon after the Restoration, and built his house on the site of the current Devonshire House. The family's country residence was Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire. Development of the houses on the east side of Berkeley Square was completed in 1739 but the exact date for the enclosure is not known. In 1696 the 3rd Lord Berkeley of Stratton sold Berkeley House, Piccadilly, to the 1st Duke of Devonshire, who agreed to keep a strip of land the width of the garden clear of development in order to protect the view north from the house. This condition was honoured when the Berkeley estate was laid out for speculative building in the 1730s and 1740s, and resulted in the present square. The garden was first enclosed in the mid 1740s when the houses along the west side were completed. Over the subsequent two decades it fell into disrepair and by 1766, the enclosure was reported to have gone to ruin. The residents met at a coffee-house or tavern in Berkeley Square to approve a plan for fencing and laying out a garden. The Act (Geo. III. cap. 56) of 1766 enabled the trustees `to raise money to pave, light, clean and adorn the space' and a body of trustees formed to ensure its maintenance. The following year the ground was re-railed and laid out anew. The layout has remained virtually unchanged.

There are gates through the iron railings at the centre of each of the four sides of the long, rectangular site. The plot slopes gently down to the south although it has to some extent been levelled, resulting in a slight banking round the edge at the northern end. It is ringed by roads that separate it from the surrounding houses and office buildings. The main area is grassed, with a broad gravel walk forming an oval round the perimeter. Cross walks lead to the pump house, erected at the centre of the site in 1800. Four stone baskets have been placed round it.

A marble statue, the Woman of Samaria by Pre-Raphaelite sculptor Alexander Monro, 1881 stands at the southern end of the square. It was donated by the 3rd Marquis of Lansdowne, and replaced an equestrian statue of George II, cast in lead, which was removed in 1827.

Around the edge of the ground, and around the grass plots, stand a number of plane trees of a particularly upright form. They are thought to be those planted in the late 1780s by Edward Bouverie, the then resident of No.13. Westminster City Council, which maintains and manages the Square, undertook major works in 1994, with new hoggin and gravel paths, floodlighting, and the restoration (including turning her around to the original orientation) the of the Woman of Samaria.

Sources consulted:

Berkeley Square, WM 807, English Heritage London, 1989, (unpublished); Chancellor, E B The History of the Squares of London, 1907, p.20-21; Colby, R Mayfair, a Town within London, 1966, p. 39-41; D V H Eyre, 'The Garden Enclosures of Squares in the City of Westminster: Past, Present & Future', (1995, unpublished); Johnson, B H Berkeley Square to Bond Street. The early History of the Neighbourhood, 1952. ; Kennedy, C Mayfair, a social History, 1986; Pevsner, N rev. Cherry, B London I, 1985, p.558; Webster, A D London Trees, 1950, p.150.
Grid ref: TQ287806
Size in hectares: 0.998
   
On EH National Register : Yes
EH grade: Grade II
Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
Registered common or village green
on Commons Registration Act 1965:
No
Protected under London Squares
Preservation Act 1931:
Yes
 
The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
On Local List:
In Conservation Area: Yes
Conservation Area name: Mayfair
Tree Preservation Order: No
Nature Conservation Area: No
Green Belt: No
Metropolitan Open Land: No
Special Policy Area: Yes
Other LA designation: London Square
   

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